A salt factory worker’s leg was crushed and needed 14 medical surgeries and left him with a 44% disability in a work accident caused by him not following safety instructions and climbing onto the conveyor belt to tie a sack of salt that weighed a ton and a half.
The Supreme Court held that, although the employer bears primary responsibility for the accident, the employee bears contributory negligence reducing compensation by 20%. Israeli law imposes an obligation on the employer to take reasonable measures to protect his employees from hazards in the workplace, including to ensure that the equipment is proper and usable, institute safety procedures, enforce such, and give the employees instructions regarding such hazards in the workplace and how to avoid them. When it comes to work accidents, the tendency is to be strict with the employer and reduce the employee’s attribution of contributory negligence, because there is a presumption that employees acted for the benefit of the employer and in order to perform the work. However, the employee also has a duty to be careful in performing his work and follow safety procedures set by the employer, and if his contribution to an accident is found to be material and obvious, a contributory negligence must be set, both by a physical-causal test of causation and a normative test. Here, although the employer breached the duty of care because there were faults on the conveyor belt that were not repaired, the emergency switch did not work and the employer did not ensure that safety procedures are enforced, the employee also contributed to the accident, which could have been avoided had he not climbed on the conveyor belt. Thus, a contributory negligence in the rate of 20% should be imposed on the employee and reduce the damages.